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The Miracle of the Grapes

Grape Harvest in Israel’s Heartland Delayed Until Arrival of Evangelical Volunteers 

This year’s grape harvest in Judea and Samaria is ripening nearly three weeks late and just in time for HaYovel’s volunteers to arrive in the country, even amidst border closures. 

For sixteen years, HaYovel has been bringing international volunteers to help the small farmers of Judea and Samaria harvest their grapes. Through the years, more than 3,000 Christian volunteers from 30 countries have helped more than ten farmers harvest 3,400 tons of grapes!

For the last sixteen years, HaYovel has been faithfully bringing Christians to Israel, even amidst crisis. During the war with Gaza and Operation Protective Edge, HaYovel was here. During the years of knife attacks, car rammings, and stone throwings, HaYovel continued bringing volunteers. Through it all, this evangelical organization who has stayed committed to not evangelizing in Israel, has simply been picking grapes in the biblical heartland. It may seem like an insignificant mission, but when you consider how many prophets from the Bible spoke of this work, you might change your mind. 

“You will again plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria, the planters will plant and eat them as ordinary food.” (Jeremiah 31:5)

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit.” (Amos 9:14)

Jeremiah and Amos (among other prophets) spoke of these things during a time of Israel’s destruction. Incredibly, the vineyards in Judea and Samaria were restored less than thirty years ago! 

Not only do the prophets speak of the wine and vineyards in Israel’s heartland, they also speak about the nations coming to participate!

“Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner will be your plowmen and vinedressers.” (Isaiah 61:5)

This year, these incredible prophecies were in jeopardy of not being fulfilled due to a global pandemic. Israel’s borders have been closed to non-citizens for many months, and to date, it’s still anyone’s guess when they will open again. For a country who depends so much on foreign tourism, this has been a huge blow to the economy. 

For HaYovel, this meant that there were 400 tons (yes, tons) of grapes that were in danger of rotting on the vines. They only had a crew of ten people, consisting of staff who had remained in Israel since before COVID-19 began. The farmers began trying to make other plans. One farmer began the process of purchasing a high-tech combine from France. Some tried to hire students and still others called for local volunteers to help with the harvest.

Many Israelis responded to the call for help, but it was still not sufficient. The harvest was actually in danger of not taking place. 

On July 23rd, the staff of HaYovel published this video to their YouTube channel with prayers that a miracle would happen. Within a short time, a miracle happened and HaYovel was given permission to bring a small number of volunteers into the country. A dedicated group of volunteers committed to a three-month trip, and one week later they were on their way to the country. Normally volunteer programs would include tours of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and educational experiences with local Israeli leaders, but because of the COVID-19 restrictions, this year each volunteer only came to serve.

On September 1st, the first group of volunteers exited quarantine and the next day hit the vineyards, harvesting more than 20 tons of grapes by the day’s end. 

The incredible part about this story is that the harvest this year is nearly a month behind schedule. Normally, the white grapes are ready to harvest during the last week of July and the red grapes are ready for harvest in mid-August. This year however, and quite unexplainably, the red grapes were not ready for harvesting until the first week of September. It’s almost as if they were waiting for their usual volunteers to come and lovingly pick their clusters from the vines. Since the red grapes make up the majority of the vineyards in Judea and Samaria, its harvest represents the greatest need for the farmers. 

To put this story all together. . .

The prophets spoke about vineyards being planted on Israel’s mountains 3,000 years ago. They predicted that foreigners would participate in their harvest. 

This year, Israel’s borders continue to remain closed to non-citizens. 

In a miraculous turn of events, Israel recognized the great value of HaYovel’s volunteer program and allowed volunteers to enter the country, spend two weeks in quarantine, and then enter the vineyards to begin the grape harvest. All of this is while Israel’s borders are closed to ALL non-citizens! 

At the same time, the grape harvest of 2020 is historically three weeks later than normal, the majority ripening just in time for HaYovel’s volunteers to hit the fields. 

Let’s be honest. God cares about the vineyards of Judea and Samaria. He cares that volunteers from the nations want to come to Israel, even amidst a world crisis to harvest the grapes of the biblical heartland. God can make the impossible an everyday miracle, especially in the land of Israel.

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